Mark your calendar! April is Workplace Conflict Awareness Month! This April plan something to help the people you work with come to peace with conflict. You'll do more in April to reduce destructive conflict and raise productivity than all the downsizing, reorgs, acquisitions, spinoffs and what-not have done in the past decade.
Almost everyone is aware of workplace conflict — some painfully so. We usually think of Conflict as a negative, something to be avoided or even suppressed. The problem is that our usual tactics for dealing with Conflict only make it worse.
But we can do better, if we deal with Conflict differently. Here are ten insights about Conflict that will help you, your team, and your entire organization come to terms with Conflict.
- Conflict comes in two flavors: Destructive and Creative
- Destructive conflict is toxic to relationships and hurts people and organizations. Creative conflict helps us come to better solutions and create innovations. Creative conflict is the basis of healthy competitions.
- Suppressing conflict makes it more destructive
- When we try to suppress all conflict, even creative conflict, we drive it underground, where it can become destructive. Dealing openly and honestly with conflict — both creative and destructive — is the only safe way to manage it.
- Dealing with conflict takes skill
- We can all improve how we deal with conflict — it's a skill, like any other. Training helps you avoid mistakes that others already know about.
- Some conflicts are so destructive that we need help to deal with them
- When you're involved in a destructive conflict, or when a conflict is very destructive, special skills are required to sort things out. When we feel that we "ought" to be able to straighten out any conflict, no matter how severely destructive it has become, and especially when we're involved in it even indirectly, we're headed for trouble. Ask a specialist for help.
- The problem is never the problem
- Conflicts — especially destructive conflicts — often have a point at issue that everyone agrees is the topic of of the conflict — the problem. For destructive conflicts, the problem is never the problem. Almost certainly, something else is going on.
- There's no Download the press release about Workplace Conflict Awareness Month. It's in plain text format, and includes a link to a zip archive of images.such thing as a "personality clash"
- True, some people do have trouble getting along. But unless they are in complete isolation from everybody else, you can be certain that other people are playing a role in the conflict. Writing off the trouble to a personality clash is convenient, but it doesn't address the whole issue.
- In destructive conflict, everyone plays a role
- Usually, in a destructive conflict, there are a few people who play "starring" roles. Don't be fooled. These roles might not be causal — they could be symptomatic. Almost everyone involved plays a role of some kind. Sending the stars off to conflict training probably won't fix the problem. New stars will likely appear.
- To resolve Order the Workplace Conflict
…help make your workplace more sophisticated about Conflict.destructive conflict, think "system"
- To really resolve a destructive conflict, everyone involved — even those you think are involved only indirectly — will have to change something. You have to change the system, not just one or two or three people. And the system includes not only the behavior of the people, but the facility, the processes and the rules that constrain how they behave.
- Big changes aren't always the answer
- Sometimes, the changes needed to resolve a destructive conflict are surprisingly minor. Think small first.
- Celebrate resolutions
- When you do resolve a destructive conflict, celebrate it. Feeling good about the accomplishment makes it easier for everyone to do the work they'll need to do for the next one.
Conflict — both creative and destructive — is part of Life. We can get rid of it only when we end Life. I don't know about you, but I'm not quite ready for that yet. As a beginning, see what you can do about making people aware of these ten ideas. Have a great month!
During Workplace Conflict Awareness Month you can talk about conflict without people thinking you're talking about them. The Workplace Conflict Awareness Month Kit includes:
- A 15-slide PowerPoint presentation that you can use to kick off a discussion of conflict in your organization.
- A pamphlet, "Ten Things to Do for Workplace Conflict Awareness Month," which gives you ten great ideas to help organizations take action about destructive conflict.
- A copy of my tips book 101 Tips for Managing Conflict.
All for .
This item requires Microsoft PowerPoint 2000 or later, and Adobe Reader 6.0 or later. You can load it onto your computer or mobile devices. Or print it on any standard black-and-white or color printer. The price makes the decision easy: per copy.
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